Blog Post

News Corp.-IGN: Viacom Aced Out At Last Minute?

(Staci D. Kramer) I’ve thought for a while that Viacom’s MTV Networks and IGN Entertainment would make a good fit so I wasn’t surprised to hear from multiple sources that Viacom was the last man standing when Fox Interactive got in the act. As best I can tell, Viacom was thisclose to finalizing the deal with IGN for about $600 million when FIM realized the gaming/entertainment company had decided to lower its financial sights.
The answer was “no” on News Corp.’s end at $1 billion and at $800 million; as recently as a month ago, IGN wasn’t interested in numbers close to what it sold for today. (At one point, IGN bankers approached potential buyers asking for letters of interest and willingness to pony up a lot of cash. News Corp. was among those that passed.) And, when I was told by someone familiar with the situation that rumors of negotiations with IGN in mid-August were just that, apparently it was what we call in our house a “true fact.”
That all changed within the last week when News Corp. got wind of an about-to-be-signed deal with Viacom at the lower rate and jumped into the bidding via lead IGN VC Great Hill Partners. In a matter of days — including a holiday weekend — News Corp. was able to change course with the approval of Chairman Rupert Murdoch and President/COO Peter Chernin (just emerging from his August-long vacation), make an offer slightly higher than Viacom’s (this supercedes my earlier report that Viacom may have been paying more), get approval from the lawyers and finalize the deal Wednesday.
That scenario dovetails with something FIM President Ross Levinsohn said today when I asked if the company’s plans had called for hitting 70 million uniques — nearly tripling its monthly unique visitors and leaping into the top 10 traffic sites — by now. His reply: “I thought we’d be in the 30s. If you’d asked me in May would we be this far this fast, I would have said no way. I may have not grasped how quickly this company can move.”
Just guessing that Viacom may not have grasped it either.

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